Friday, February 12, 2010


In his early teen years, my older brother was very much into pigeons. (I can't really fault him there since I'm very much into Doodlebug and John Mayer. We all have to have a hobby.) Anyway, he would get all sorts of frilly and fancy pigeons shipped in from across the country for his puzzle box of a pigeon coop. He wanted to breed the birds and needed a sure fire way to determine their sexes. He found an ad in the back of a pigeon trade newsletter for a pigeon sexer. It was easy to use and was only $6.

Now, as a white trash teen who isn't old enough for a real job yet, $6 is quite an investment. (Expenses are all relative to income. I remember spending my entire $2 allowance on a tube of lame bubblegum at the mall when I was seven. I've wasted more on bad Thai food as an adult, but I'm also making a little more than $2 allowance a week.) Multiply that by four and you could get a concert ticket back in the day. So he got his money order and mailed it in, and we waited the six to eight weeks for it to arrive. He opened the package and it was a plastic tube on a string. If you dangled it over the pigeon and it went in circles, it was one sex; if it swayed back and forth like a pendulum, it was the other. It's the same sort of thing housewives do with wedding rings to determine the sex of babies in the womb. He was irritated but he tried it. It worked the opposite of the instructions. He was pissed because he felt like he'd been fleeced. He thought this was actually going to work and he spent his six bucks and several weeks of waiting for a piece of crap that cost less than fifty cents to make. Worse, he put his faith in this object, that it was being represented as honestly and earnestly as he perceived.

When I was in my teens and twenties, I was pretty darn gullible. I wasn't an idiot, I was just naive. I expected everything to be as honest and earnest as I was. When I went to the dean of students with a complaint in college, I thought she actually meant what she said when she told me she cared. In truth, she just wanted me to quitely get the hell out of her school that year so she'd never have to deal with me again. I didn't check for strings in the marionette show of life. Hell, as a kid I believed my dad when he said he'd build me a dollhouse, knowing he had a hard enough time getting important construction projects done around the house. I expected people to deal honestly with me, and I believed the people in charge who were making all sorts of claims and promises weren't bullshitting me (and countless others who crossed their paths).

I'm over thirty now. My bullshit meter has developed and I'm not as gullible. I still expect the best from people. I know they tend to have good intentions. They're a lot like I was, not looking for strings. I know life sometimes gets in the way of good intentions so things don't always work out. Time has wisened me. As my adorable nephew once shouted at a car salesman who was trying to wheel and deal with my sister, "I'm not playing these games anymore!"

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